The Ephesus Initiative is a research cooperative committed to tracking and analyzing religious freedom in the United States, advocating for positive responses to hostility, and equipping members of society to both understand and respond appropriately to its culture in the area of religious freedom. In all, the Ephesus Initiative seeks to clearly and fairly express truth and promote religious freedom as a basic human right.
We are firmly committed to the religious freedom of people of all faiths and none with our research being focused on the religious freedom of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
We embrace the ideal that every human has a basic freedom to thought, conscience, and religion, as is reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights among other international human rights standards. We seek to foster counter-cultural, constructive responses to hostility.
Why Religious Freedom?
Religious Freedom is the natural outcome of the belief that each person possesses dignity by virtue of their humanity. Being human entails the opportunity to seek that which is greater than ourselves. This is the key beginning of human and societal flourishing. Freedom of religion is part of the foundational rights of conscience, belief and expression. They are at the heart of what it means to be human and necessary for a strong, vibrant democracy. Religious freedom’s importance is noted in international law and the US Constitution:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 18 states:Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
The US Constitution’s first Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion are the prerequisite for the exercise of all other basic human rights. The historical reality is that where religious freedom is denied, so too are other basic human rights. How can we not seek its protection and the flourishing of all people? We agree with George Washington that: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are the indispensable supports".
We work so that people of all faiths and none may flourish in the human freedom that is theirs; that all members of our democracy will have the right to think, believe, assemble and worship.